Haitian construction workers build concrete-block house.
Construction of a house for Haiti earthquake survivors.

Haiti Quake Survivors Get New Homes

Quake-Induced Housing Crisis

On Aug. 14, 2021, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake rocked Haiti’s Tiburon Peninsula, killing at least 2,248 people and damaging or destroying at least 137,000 homes. The widespread destruction it caused further complicated the lives of families already struggling to cope with poverty, a national fuel shortage, rapid economic inflation and other pressing issues.

Cross Catholic Outreach has been working in Haiti for nearly two decades and was able to leap into action using its existing network of in-country partners to distribute emergency relief to survivors and help support long-term recovery projects. One of the partners involved in those recovery efforts is Overture International (formerly known as Espwa), and we have been able to collaborate with them to build safe, sturdy houses for families that lost their homes.

Catholics Unite to Shelter the Homeless

Immediately after the earthquake, our focus had to be on addressing urgent needs. So we worked with Overture to provide temporary shelter to families in the most desperate situations.

However, after those emergency efforts were completed, many families still had significant setbacks to contend with because their homes had been destroyed or become unsafe to occupy. To help address those needs, we raised funds from U.S. Catholics to bless these families with new, sturdier homes.

Our goal: to build 100 cement-block houses designed to resist damage from earthquakes and storms.

After the neediest families were selected, Overture identified and trained crew leaders to oversee the work being organized in each benefiting community. Workers were then hired from within those communities to serve on the construction crews. Family members also participated in digging the foundation and carrying loads. Those who needed help with tasks could recruit friends to help.

The result: So far, 10 families have moved into their new homes, and our partner is in the process of completing the remaining 90.

Related: Haiti’s History of Natural Disasters

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Marlene said, “Our kids are proud to show their friends their new home.”

A Family Receives a New Home

Joseph and Marlene have been trying to survive on about $50 a month. It’s all they have been able to scrape together to support their family. As you might expect, that means they face a day-to-day struggle to keep food on the table for their children.

They have a plot of farmable land, but it’s very small — and insufficient to feed everyone.

Uneducated and illiterate, this Haitian couple works very hard to make sure their children have better options; but as often happens in Haiti, emergencies get in the way. This time, it was the 2021 earthquake. That disaster completely destroyed their home, forcing them and their children to seek refuge in an emergency shelter.

With our local partner’s help, Joseph and Marlene survived the immediate crisis, but now they faced an uncertain future because they lacked the resources they needed to either rebuild their home or find a new one.

Through funding from Cross Catholic Outreach benefactors, Joseph and Marlene were provided with a permanent solution to their personal housing crisis. Their home was not only rebuilt — it was actually made stronger than before! That’s because the home was constructed with quality materials intended to resist damage from earthquakes and storms. This means Joseph and Marlene are now better prepared to face the next disaster that may come their way.

“Our situation was so desperate after the earthquake,” said Marlene. “When we heard that Overture was helping us with a new home, we couldn’t believe it. So often organizations come to Haiti and make promises they don’t fulfill. It didn’t take long for us to realize that Overture was serious — and once we did, we put everything into helping with our new home. We provided the land, we dug the foundation, we prepared the road for the trucks to deliver materials, and we cooked for the building team.

“This house means so much to us. We have a decent place to sleep peacefully and comfortably, we can receive family when they visit, and our kids are proud to show their friends their new home.”

Donations from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures for this project incurred through June 30, 2025, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.